Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stupid Leap Year

Ok when I wrote that last post, it occurred to me that it is leap year. Who knew. Not me. So I will just sneak in one more cheater post. Just for good measure. Don't want to come this close to the impossible dream and miss it by that much, now do I?

That leap year is a trickster, huh? But it didn't foil me and my superblogging powers? bwahahahahahahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am off to a fun New Year's Party where I hope to eat lots of yummy food, and visit with lots of dear friends and play lots of fun games. Or just sit on the couch, whichever works out best.

Ta ta for now.

happy new year's and oh yea I MADE MY GOAL

So I can see that the whole world decided to celebrate my accomplishment with fireworks and parties and drinking and partying. How special that everyone shares my joy at this amazing feat. I have posted 365 times during 2008. Wait was it leap year? Did I need to do 366 posts? Please no one burst my bubble, OK. Just humor me. I have so little to celebrate right now.

I have to say I am somewhat shocked and amazed myself. There were times I doubted I could do it. And I did cheat and make some short posts there at the end. But I think you all will forgive me.

Now Happy New Year! Go forth and binge and party like it's 1999.

And here's to next year, dare I say it can't get any worse? No, I would never tempt the fates by saying something that stupid. It could get a whole lot worse, so here's to how grateful I am for it being just the right amount of worse and not needing it to be any worser than it is. Ok, do you hear me, tap tap tap...Is this thing on? Is anyone there?

See ya next year!

An Epic Tale of Hipstoric Proportions

I know that I have been fairly cryptic and silent about how Jared is doing since his hip replacement surgery on November 7th. I haven't written about it for many reasons. When people ask "How is he doing?" I really don't know how to answer. And not having an answer makes it hard to talk about I suppose. So here are some pictures that will perhaps prod me to think of what to say. I CAN say a huge thank you to everyone who is thinking of us and praying for us. It means more than you will every know.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Here is a picture from back in July, when he was still in the drug induced comma and we didn't yet know what was wrong. I can certainly be thankful that he doesn't look like this anymore and that they figured out how to get him well enough to leave the hospital. He was on a ventilator for 10 days, in the PICU for 18, and the hospital 25. He had 5 different surgeries while he was there. All this from a little staff infection that settled in his right hip and went septic. Not the best month of the year for him.

Here is a cute picture of Dr Magic. This man is actually disabled himself and has to wheel himself around on his chair. What a great example of cheering others even though you yourself are hurting. Jared really needed this cheering because it was not fun to wake up and find out you have lost the ability to do so many of the things you used to do.

Here we are the day we left the hospital. Silly, silly me thought the worst was behind us. And look how short his hair is. Man that child has grown some hair in six months. But I figure that when you have no control over so many things in your life, if you want to control your hair, go ahead. We'll see what happens come January. Also he is so thin in this picture, because he lost 20 pounds. I know most of us would like to loose weight, but this is not the way to do it.
Here is the biggest scar from the first surgery. When the doctor cut him open to do the hip, he used this scar but had to make it longer.

Here is Diana doing her best Vanna White impersonation to show off what my family room looked like after it was turned into Jared's new bedroom. See the brown blanket on his bed. Some very kind people in Kingwood Texas sent it to Jared. One of my sister's good friends had her Church tie it for him. It came with a beautiful note stating that each knot represented a prayer that was said in his behalf. It is very warm and cozy and immediately became his blanket of choice to sleep with. It is heartwarming to know that there are still good people in this world.

All of our bedrooms are upstairs and so he had to sleep in the family room. This was convenient for me since it was right next to the kitchen, I didn't have far to go to carry his meals. And his new room had the TV, video games, and DVD player, all things his real room lacks. Here is the couch I slept on for a month after his hip surgery.
Here is me, in my best "when will these doctor appointments ever end" face. I am not sure why Jared took this picture of me, but it pretty much sums up how I felt this fall. This picture was taken in celebration of our 200th visit. So much fun, orthodontist, infectious disease, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapist, pediatricians, and even the dentist. Good grief Charlie Brown.
This is Jared on his way into the hip replacement. He looks pretty calm. Calmer than me that is for sure. And he had just gotten used to wearing underwear again when they had to go and put him back in a hospital gown. (sorry Jared, TMI I am sure)

Here are our lovely hospital accommodations. You can see the chair I tried to sleep in the first night. Then you can see my contraband cot that I snuck in. Total lifesaver. And look how close I am to him, so I could be right there whenever he needed something. So handy.

Here is a picture of Jared getting an EKG. Because there is nothing upsetting about that when you need a test to check out your heart performance. They were worried because his heart rate was so high, but they decided that it must just be from the pain he was experiencing.
And because it was so fun the first time, they did it again the next day. Jared keeps telling me he has a six pack, and I keep telling him that it is just his ribs sticking out.
Here is a lovely closeup of the would, hope it doesn't make you throw up. It took 22 staples to put humpty together again. I think it rather looks like a shark bite.
Here is an x-ray of his new bionic hip. I had to do some censoring to keep this family friendly. Sorry I don't have the same editing skills as Funny Farmer.

And last but certainly not least, is a picture of Jared with his surgeon. Also if you look closely you can see a card on Jared's lap. This is so he can get through metal detectors like at the high school football games or the airport. Pretty cool, huh?

So the bottom line is that Jared is alive. But he has been to hell and is not yet back. And apparently they like you to have a parent escort when you go to hell, kind of like an R rated movie.

His hip pain is gone, but it is his darn foot that still hurts. Also the muscles in his leg have tightened up and it is really hard for him to straighten his leg all the way. These two things combine to make walking extremely difficult. The doctor had originally said that he would be off his crutches by now, but that is not the case.

Jared has told me that he can go back to school with his crutches, and I am hoping that is true. The next semester starts on Jan 18th and that is our goal for him to go back then. I am fairly skeptical, perhaps cautiously pessimistic about that. He still has trouble sitting up all day long. If he manages to go to school and complete this semester, then he will still be OK with a little summer school. If he ends up not completing this semester, he will have to repeat ninth grade. I am desperately trying to avoid this for him.

Two weeks ago we moved his bed back upstairs. Each night he hobbles up the stairs and in the morning he hobbles back down. This means that I am back to sleeping in my bed as well. Oh happy day.

Jared hate going to physical therapy and fights tooth and nail not to go. He drags his feet and does his best to make us late every time. I am so tired of trying to make him do things he is insistent he won't do. Even his exercises at home, are a pain.

The physical therapist says that we must make him straighten his leg. I asked her just how does she suggest I do this. She said that ultimately it is up to him. Somehow I must convince him to want to do this.

It is in this department that I feel like the biggest looser/failure. My super hopeless ways have rubbed off on him, or he started it. I am not sure. But he seems to not quite believe that all this will make him better. Most of his friends have gone one with their lives.
He has had the sweetest seminary teacher who has been wonderful to visit him and bring some of the class to visit as well.
So his progress is ever so slow and ever so slight. He still needs help to do most things that need doing each day. Maybe when he gets back to school it will make all the difference to his outlook and attitude.
I can't help but worrying that somehow I should have taught him all these great lessons about faith and hope and relying on the Lord to get through things. Somehow it is my fault that I can not make him get better faster.
So we will keep on keeping on. And someday we just might return to somewhat normalcy.

Dear IRS

We are fast approaching that time of year, when we look in files and boxes, pull out receipts and little scraps of paper. You know, when you try to determine just what expenses from the previous year you will be able to deduct on your taxes.

So I am accumulating a worksheet of medical expenses, because I have a sinking feeling that I just may be able to deduct those this year.

I would hate to ever be audited by the IRS, so I thought I would just run some of these deductions by you all and let you give me the thumbs up. Let me know if you see any red flag items that you think the IRS will have a problem with.

$75 for 50 pounds of peanut M&Ms

$100 for repair of wall where I banged me head daily for six months

$80 for Diana's extra pair of glasses to save my sanity

$10 for ear plugs so I could sleep at night at the hospital

$5 for eye mask, also for sleeping at night at the hospital

$25 for the parking ticket I received when I forgot to display my handicap placard at one of Jared's million doctor appointments

$65.95 for the minutes I went over my plan while talking to friends and family from the hospital

$595.15 for fast food like McDonald's, Wendy's, or Taco Bell that have kept our family alive for the past 6 months, all the while probably secretly killing us.

$90 for 3 months gym membership that I joined after a false high cholesterol result convinced me that I needed to do something to be more healthy and relieve stress.

$10 for baby shower gift for the receptionist at the physical therapy office

$10 for a birthday present for one of the workers at the pharmacy because I am there so much they think I work there.

So what do you think? I do have my degree from BYU in Accounting, but it has been quite a while. And truth be told I took tax my last semester and just wanted to get a D to graduate. Thank you very much. And don't tell my kids about that either

Will she or won't she

Ok people I am ever so close to achieving the impossible dream. Which after the morning I have had seems even more impossible. But I shall not let life's little annoyances fool around with me today. I can do it. I have to. Or I will be terribly, horribly, disappointed with myself. After this post only three to go and I have two of them mostly written. I may just have to go ahead and publish them before I have them completely polished.

I would just like to say that one of my favorite things about this time of year is when TV shows do marathons. Of course I don't like real marathons where you run your brains out. I just like sitting on the couch and watching all of my favorite shows one after the other until my brain just runs out on its own.

Let's see I have watched Project Runway, Psych, and Top Chef. I am looking forward with anticipation to a Monk marathon tomorrow. Hopefully I can sit and put puzzles together while wearing my blue fuzzy BYU slippers and sitting in front of the TV.

I can't wait for the holiday season to be over so the Hallmark channel will stop with all this boring sappy Christmas story stuff. Enough already. Give it a rest. And return to your normal detective shows. Where is my Murder She Wrote at 11:00 pm each night.? How am I suppose to survive this fast of detective dramas. I think you have gone to far. Just saying.

And I feel like I have been running a posting marathon. Mylanta. I wonder if it is possible to blog you brains out and then go around brainless. Oh I guess that already happened to me. Nevermind.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Heaven on Earth

In - N - Out Hamburger with animal fries, it doesn't get better than that. If you don't know about animal fries it might be because they are not on the menu. You have to ask for it and then they will make it for you. Animal fries have a piece of processed cheese, spread, and onions that have been browned. They totally rock, although they do run up the bill a bit. Every now and then we splurge and get them. This was one of those lucky days.

Tip for these hard economic times

Monday, December 29, 2008

Beauty School Dropout

Jared and Diana were playing some game where somehow it involved Diana giving Jared a make up makeover. On the one hand they were getting along together which is a wonderful and rare thing. One the other hand, do you really want your son looking like this? I think the curl on his forehead really completes the look. And Jared did give his permission for this picture to be published, so I am not being a bad mom.

Don't you hate it when...

while cleaning in your daughter's room, you find an old gumball, and having no germ phobias you pop that puppy in your mouth, bite down on the hardened sphere, only to crack off half of your temporary crown.

When I was in the car accident 6 years ago, I cracked my tooth and had to get a porcelain crown. This crown has been chipping off in pieces for several years. Finally a few weeks ago, I cracked it so badly that the only solution is to put a gold crown on instead. So as part of that process I have a temporary crown that I cracked today.

Hence I had to slink to the dentist office feeling like the prodigal son, because I have already had to get a gold crown earlier this year on the tooth next to the one having problems right now. This seems to be that for some reason I grind my teeth at night.

I wonder what kind of stress is going on in my life that I causing me to grind me teeth.

Biker Twins

When I posted the picture of Diana's new bike, my sister reminded me of this picture of me. Strangely similiar, don't ya think?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chasing Hope

Until this fall, I visit taught a dear sister in my ward named Ann. I loved visiting her for many reasons but especially because she reminds me of my grandmother.

Each visit was filled with her love for her children and grandchildren. It was obvious that they were the most important things in her life. We usually visited her on Sundays because she worked. Our visits would have to be early because every week her large family would come over for dinner. You could tell how much she loved this.

Last December she shared about how much fun they would have together on Christmas Eve. She really seemed to have the kind of weekly family contact that I have always dreamed of having. Why she even worked for her daughter in law, in an office, and for the past year as the nanny for her grandson.

Ann teaches the fourth Sunday lessons in Relief Society, and I always looked forward to her lesson each month. As I have stood nervously to teach gospel doctrine for the past few months, I found comfort and encouragement in Ann's sweet smile on the back row.

For all of these reasons and more, I was shocked and dismayed two weeks ago, when they announced that Ann was in the hospital. She was having trouble breathing and they were not sure what was wrong with her.

I made a mental note to go and visit her that afternoon. Life happened and I never made it down to the hospital. The next day I received the news that my mom's cancer was worse than we had hoped. They are classifying it as stage 3. My mom will undergo chemo and radiation. There are still more tests to be done.

Obviously this news was devastating to me. I found that I had to consciously choose to breathe in and out. Who says breathing is an involuntary body function? I pretty much laid in the fetal position for the next two days.

Several days later I called the RS president to ask about Ann. She told me that a test had shown that she had a rare form of lung cancer. They did not think there was anything they could do to help her. What the heck. Once again I was stunned by the news.

At the end of that week, I worked a couple of days at a Christmas store for a little extra money. As I walked through the large room with festive ornaments and decorations every where you looked, I wanted to throw up. I hoped that no one would notice the tears streaming down my face as I listened to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" playing on the radio. That part of "through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow" was too much to take.

And still, I never made it to the hospital to visit Ann. I thought about her and her family often. It was easy to imagine all that they were going through. They would be taking turns sitting by her bedside day and night. They would drive to the hospital on autopilot in a trance of shock and disbelief. They would become used to calling into the nurses station to be let in to see their loved one. Soon they would learn to read all the numbers on the machines attached to Ann and become accustomed to all the tubes running in and out of her. I could see it all and even though I thought my heart had already been smashed to a fine powder, somehow there was still a piece big enough to break again at the pain this family was experiencing this holiday season.

Perhaps it is more efficient to grieve for so many things at the same time. Multitasking at its very finest. I don't know.

That Sunday I taught Ether 12 in Gospel Doctrine. It was all about Faith and Hope and weakness. I read and reread Moroni's promise that because of the Saviour we could with surety hope for a better world. I also read Elder Uchdorfs talk about Hope from the last conference. I learned from him that we are commanded to hope. I had never really thought of it in that way before. He urges us to not give in to the temptation to be hopeless.

I vowed that I would repent of my super hopeless ways. But it was easier said than done. I feel as if I am Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, hanging by a thread six inches above the ground. Only I am hanging in the pit of despair. Lucky for me the Saviour is the anchor on this tug of war between despair and hope. Also pulling on my team are my family and friends. So I have no doubt who will win in the end. But for the record, all this tugging is tearing me apart.

The next week was Christmas week, and as of the 23rd, I had only purchased 3 gifts. I was voting for a Grinch Christmas without any presents or trimmings, but my daughter said that wouldn't do. The next two days I managed to do a minimally adequate job. We had Chinese take out for Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas morning was short and somewhat sweet. And still I just watched everything going on around me as if it were a dream.

And so last night, I found myself alone in my car and felt prompted to go to the hospital. I drove the all too familiar path that I had driven 25 times last summer. As I entered the hospital, there was a large family with small crying children. They were probably all tired and hungry after a long stressful day of uncertainty.

I went to the elevator and then realized that Ann would not be in the pediatric ICU. So I asked at the desk and managed to get a room number and some directions. I walked down the mile long hallway where I had accompanied Jared on his trips to the OR. It was also the hallway I would walk up and down in just to stretch my legs and try to get a little bit of exercise.

The hallway was scattered with people wearing tired care worn faces or those wearing scrubs.

I made my way to the third floor and found myself outside the Cardiovascular Unit. Just like the PICU, they keep it under lock down and I had to call in and ask to be admitted. For a minute I thought they might not let me in.

But soon I found myself walking past rooms filled with patients on machines. The hospital had done its best to convey the holiday spirit by painting the windows to the rooms. But no matter what you do to a hospital, it is no place to be for the holidays.

There were nurses sitting at the desk charting and perhaps chatting a little bit. Finally I found the room I was looking for and entered.

None of her family were there at that moment. Perhaps that is why I was prompted to come. I hardly recognized Ann. She was rather swollen from all the fluids they put in you. Jared was the same way. When I first came in and spoke to her, she seemed to open her eyes a little and maybe move her head a little.

I asked her how she was and asked about her family. Really I just made small talk with her, even though it was one sided on my part. I held her hand and rubbed her arm. The nurse came in and I asked if I could put some lotion on her. The nurse said OK, and so rubbed lotion on her arms and legs. I told Ann I didn't understand why it seems so much drier in the winter here. I told her how much our visits had meant to me and how I miss coming to her house each month. I looked at all the machines and numbers and was surprised that I have forgotten just what normal numbers should be. I rinsed out the cloth on her forehead and sponged her down a bit to help cool her fever.

Of course because I am not family, the nurse could not tell me how she is doing. But I sensed that it was not good. The nurse tried to get her to squeeze her hand, but Ann did not do it. Even when Jared was in a comma, he could squeeze pretty hard when you asked him to.

Finally, I told Ann how much I loved her and left wondering if my visit had made any difference.

Today I spoke to the Bishop's wife and was told that the family has decided to take Ann off the respirator on Monday and to plan for the funeral on Friday. I understand, the way she is now is no way to live. But still again, I was stunned.

And so I think that the visit did make a difference to me. If tomorrow they make this announcement in Relief Society, I am sure I would have regretted terribly not visiting. It was a chance for me to say good bye. It was a chance for me to step away from my grief and sorrow and see someone else suffering as much if not more than me.

My mom shared this comforting scripture with me:

"Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;

"Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament--the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.

"Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name's glory, saith the Lord." D&C 98:1-3.

I will continue to breathe in and out. I will seek for hope diligently. I will wait patiently upon the Lord. Although truth be told, I am much better at waiting impatiently. I must follow Elder Uchdorf's admonition to never give up.

But in the mean time, I just want you to know I'm having a hard time.

Fa La La La

Diana sang for her school's Christmas program. This year they decided to go easy on the parents and just have the kids wear their pajamas. Of course this meant we needed new pajamas, but that's OK. It also meant some drama about not being able to just wear your pajamas all day, so you had to wear clothes and bring your pajamas to school and change. But whatever.

She did look ever so cute. And yea for being short so you are always on the front row. They had those kids jammed in like sardines on the bleacher.

Trent's orchestra concert got canceled when it snowed, so this was the only thing I had to go to this year. Kind of a change from three different events. And of course two of them were usually on the same day in past years.

Feliz Navidad!

In an effort to blog my brains out for the next four days, I searched through the photos on my computer. I found this little gem that I had not seen before. Apparently Trent downloaded this picture from his phone. So I take that to mean that it is fair game for posting. He was at the Bite of Las Vegas, and I think he looks rather smashing.

Biker Chick

Santa was good to Diana this year. He even managed to get the very bike that she had picked out. In previous years, he has made some slip ups and not delivered on quite exactly what she had wished for.

She was so excited. It was fun to watch. Yesterday she experienced her first fall. That shook her up for a while. But I have no doubt she will be out there riding again today.

Topless in Las Vegas

How do you like that title? Pretty catchy, huh? Probably not the best thing, though for perverts to be googling me. Just a little holiday humor.

What I really mean is Laptopless in Las Vegas, K. Everyone feel better now? All you crazies looking for excitement/nudity move along to the Crash Test Dummy Diaries. If you like that kind of thing, there are topless people at the beach in Hawaii. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Here in Las Vegas, it is just me, laptopless for a week and a half. I know it is horrifying just to think about. And believe me living the nightmare was worse. Because just like another favorite blogger of mine, to blog is to breathe.

And just to clarify why my laptop is my most priceless possession, besides my BoM of course, try living in a house with just ONE computer and FIVE computer addicted people. The lines behind the computer station have been longer than to see Santa at the mall. Sheesh.

I have wondered if one can die from lack of computer time to write and read blogs since blogging is my life source. But we have had a Christmas miracle and my laptop was rushed to the emergency room and returned to me via fed ex just this afternoon. Good thing too, because my face was turning purple from the lack of bloxygen.

At one point, I even went to the extreme of writing with a paper and pencil!! Can you even believe the depravity? Talk about a Dickens Christmas special. Good grief.

So I have spent about 8 hours straight catching up on everything that has been happening in the blogosphere, that I was unable to read in my 5 minutes of allotted computer time.

It was a good time to be out of the loop, because apparently people have lives and are not just sitting writing for my entertainment. Who knew?

And now I feel like it is the end of fast Sunday and I must eat/read everything in sight. You may be seeing an unusual number of posts coming from me, because things have been building up inside and may come pouring out. Besides I have this ridiculous dream that I can get to 365 posts for the year. So we will see. Maybe it will be just one more dream I wave to as I ride this train called my life through the tunnel of darkness.

Maybe yes and maybe no. The suspense is killing me. Just like on Willy Wonka. The old one with Gene Wilder not the new one. No offense to Johny Depp, but I am a Wonka purist.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Present

Here we are in all our glory. At least Diana is looking good in this picture. I love her shirt that says "Just dill with it" by Heinz. Ha Ha Ha. Trent is sporting a nice goatee for the holiday season. Jared still needs a hair cut, but there he is with his best friends, his crutches. And look what is that on the wall behind us? The ghosts of family photo shoots.

I know that most of you will be bitterly disappointed not to get a personal copy of this picture to hang on your fridge for the rest of the year. Dill with it, K.

If I wrote a Christmas letter this year, I suppose that it would start with the statement that it was the best of times and the worst of times. It would speak to how much I have learned to love/hate the medical system. And how much I appreciate great health insurance. And how if you have to be in Vegas during the month of July, the hospital is a cool place to be.

Here's to next year and all that I hope it will be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 16

I can't seem to get this picture to be any bigger. I don't know why. Here is last year's picture. No trying to coordinate, no making people wear things they didn't want to, just stand together and shoot.

Some of the highlights from this year included: Diana was baptized with lots of family and friends there to help share the joy. Trent got his driver's license with lots of extra worry for me. Jared tried a new sport, Lacrosse with lots of new equipment.

I spent the summer traveling like a mad women. Trips to Texas, Seattle, Arizona, and Utah. The highlight would have to be a trip to LA to see the musical Wicked for my anniversary. Also I got to shake Elder Holland's hand at Women's Conference that year. And the BYU football team came to Vegas twice that year and I was able to stalk them to my heart's content.

Well that ends our long journey down memory lane. I am so glad now I don't need to write my life history. There have certainly been some memorable things happen over the past 17 years, some good, some bad, but no one can deny how blessed we have been.

Tune in next time to see what we look like this year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

You win some, you lose some.

Ok, here is what I wore to church yesterday. Yes, I am wearing all black because I am in mourning for my team. However, I am wearing a necklace made of what I think are kuiki nuts painted white and blue. Some kids were selling them for a fund raiser and the kind person I went with bought this necklace and gave it to me because I am such a crazy fan.

How funny is this. The family I went with are big fans. My friend Elizabeth knows them and she told them about me wanting to go. They said I could only go if I would sing the fight song and was a fan of BYU. Elizabeth reassured her that no worries "My friend Pat, would fall under the category of a BYU fan". I am pretty sure that I scared this family with my over the edge fanaticism.

Here I am all bundled up for the cold and very excited to be at the game. The temperature for most of the game was 40 degrees. I had my thermals, several layers, hand warmers, and my down coat. Surprisingly, I did not freeze to death. In fact I was OK until about the third quarter. But it was never unbearable and there was enough jumping up and down to help keep the blood circulating.

Here is a great shot of the team doing the haka right before the game starts. My good friend Fui is right there in the middle of the picture. My seat was on row 5 and I was able to see all the action. We were behind the team.Also we got to see the band play. I know my niece who plays in a band would have enjoyed that part. Also there were fireworks and two jet planes flew over head while David Hasselhoff sang the National Anthem and a huge flag was unfurled over the field. Yea that made it all worth it to hear the Hass sing, huh? What I want to know is why they couldn't get Donny Osmond. That would have been great.

Here is a shot of Lavell Edwards watching the game. He was sitting just a few rows behind us. When we first got there they guy I went with said "Hey there is Lavell Edwards, why don't you go up there and I will take your picture with him." I whipped out my scrap book and said "Been there, done that." He laughed out loud at that.
Here is a nice closeup shot of a huddle. We were right on the 20 yard line in row 5. I think that may have been better even than the 50 yard line because you get to see touchdowns happen right in front of you.

Here is a close up of Austin Collie before the play started.
Even though they lost the game, I got to see the first time Bronco called an on side kick. That was something. And I think that the excitement of being at the game in person, softens the blow of the loss a little bit. And honestly sometimes you miss some of the game when it happens at the other end of the field. I may still watch my taped copy just to see what I missed. On the other hand it might be just as well to leave it alone.
So here's hoping next year will be better. I am still a fan, win or lose.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An early Christmas gift for me!

Today BYU plays Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl. And we all know that means that last night there was another fantabulously awesome football fireside.

Because of my lack of enthusiasm for so much of life lately, I wasn't sure I would go. But I figured that I would regret it if I didn't go and so I forced myself. I even forced myself to be there an hour early.

Being so early, I got a great seat right up front in the row behind seats reserved for the team families. And wouldn't you know if the guy at the very left of my picture sat right in front of me with his wife. His name is Chris Muelman.

There was a few minutes left before it started and his wife went to the bathroom. So I whipped out my camera and forced him to look at several of my million BYU fanatic fan pictures.

First I showed him the picture he was in and asked if he remembered it. He said he did. Wasn't that cute of him to lie to/humor me like that? Then we had an in depth conversation about some of my other pictures and how was the team doing and things like that. He told me that Bryce Mahika, who is next to me in my picture is sick and didn't come. Sadly the fireside had to start so we had to stop.

The fireside was great as usual. The first player Steve Fisher spoke about kindness and trying to emulate that character that the Savior displayed.

The next speaker, Wayne Latu talked about being a living testimony of Christ. He was my favorite speaker, because he made me laugh until my sides hurt. He told a story about when he was twelve and he first really identified and thought seriously about the Saviour.

He was in middle school, and had let his hair grow out longer than his mom wanted it to be. Every Friday night he and a group of friends would go roller skating. They were too young to drive and so their moms would take turns. One night he went and informed his mom that it was her turn to drive. His mom informed him that if he wanted a ride, he would have to cut his hair. He said No, No way. And so he was sent to his room.

He went to his room and was wallowing in his situation and looked up to see a picture of Jesus Christ on his wall. He went back to his mom and said "Mom, Jesus Christ had long hair." To which his wise mother replied "Jesus Christ also walked every where he went". Enough said.

The next story he told was about his mission in Peurto Rico. He had a golden investigator named Pablo. Pablo came to church every week, paid his tithing, lived the word of wisdom, and was a great guy. He even did home teaching. The only problem was that he didn't want to get baptized.

One night Wayne returned home to his apartment so discouraged about Pablo. He flung his back pack on the floor and feel to his knees. He plead with Heavenly Father to help him know what to do to help Pablo. Then he remembered something from seminary- If you want to talk to the Lord pray, but if you want the Lord to talk to you read the scriptures.

In faith and still with a prayer in his heart he opened his Book of Mormon to 1 Nephi 4:12 "And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands".

Wayne said to himself, Pablo is such a great guy this can not be right. And shortly after that Wayne was transferred.

At the end of his mission Wayne was able to return to that area and found that Pablo had finally been baptized. He asked him what had finally made the difference. Pablo said that his knowledge of the Saviour in his head, finally changed to his heart truly knowing about the atonement. Then he was ready to make the commitment.

Holly Mendenhall told a story about how they visited her brother in Panama last summer and Bronco took the chance to take a break from shaving. When they were about to return to the states, he asked her if she thought he ought to shave. Holly reminded him of what he always says to her "All times, all things, all places." And so he shaved.

When they were getting off the plane in Atlanta, someone two rows behind them said "Coach, I knew the plane wouldn't crash, with you on board." Her point to this is that we never know who is watching our example.

Coach Mendenhall spoke about his interview with ESPN and how they questioned him about his statement that football is fifth on the priority list for his team.

He then had a great missionary opportunity as he explained the other four things that come before football in his life and his team.

1. Faith, that is always first and foremost in our life, because eternally nothing else matters.

2. Family, family is something we will take with us to the next life.

3. Knowledge, also something we will take with us when we die.

4. Friends, studies have shown that our friend are the number one influencer in our life, more than parents and teachers.

And finally 5 Football.

The ESPN guys then asked how they could be one of only a handful of teams in the country who have won 10 games for the past 3 years. And Coach again bore testimony that it was because of these priorities that they have had success.

It was a great meeting. And I was remarkably cheered by my attendance. But then the fun part is walking around afterwards and rubbing elbows with the players.

At one point I happened upon these three guys, hanging out together. I cornered them and shared my pictures with them also. Perhaps I managed to convince them of my bid to win number one fan in Vegas.

Some other girls took my picture with these guys.

But I wasn't happy that I was standing in front of the one guy, so I asked for a re shoot.

This one is much better, don't you think? Just me and my guys, best buds, hangin' out. Good times, I tell ya.

Next I wondered over to where Dennis Pitta was standing

I showed him this great shot from back in September. He was injured two games ago and so I asked how he was doing. I have to say that he was not convincing when he said he would be ready to go. I am worried for him.

Also I was instrumental in getting a family to stand with him and I took their picture. They were thrilled. Next I got the girl who took my picture to stand next to him for a picture. It was very fun and fulfilling to help others achieve their stalking dreams.

Now through a very happy turn of events I find myself in possession of a ticket to the game that is on the 50 yard line. So I will now be going to the game. It is going to be ridiculously cold.

I feel like I am going to prom and must spend the day in preparations. Where are my thermals? How many layers should I wear? What about my hand warmers? And of course I can't forget my camera so I can document myself looking like the kid from A Christmas Story all bundled up. Wish me luck. And even more the Cougars, they are 3 point underdogs.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 15

All right then, this year we are getting down to business. The torture method of choice for this year was Forced Fanaticism.

This was the first year the Cougars came to the Las Vegas bowl and so I thought it was an appropriate theme. I sent out 97 cards that said "Go Cougars" on them. The thought of so many people hanging my card up on their wall, made me giddy with happiness.

Of course my two teenage sons, do not share my enthusiasm as is witnessed most plainly on their cute little ornery faces. Bless their little hearts. I would have to say that this is one of my favorite pictures of all time for a myriad of reasons.

To go with my picture, I wrote a cleverish letter using football terms to describe the events of the year. Things like kick off another year, Diana's explosive improvement in reading, Jared's reception of eight merit badges, Trent's learner's permit in the grasp, my husband used yards of electrical wire, and time out for me at women's conference.

And look back to when Trent is two and tell me that he is not making the exact same little mad "V" shape in his forehead? Somethings never change. I just hope he doesn't have this face for his wedding pictures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it snow

I suppose this is old news by now, but yes it did a very strange thing here in Vegas yesterday. It snowed and actually stuck to the ground and you could play in it.Here is an action shot of Diana throwing a snow ball. It should be noted that other than a time or two in Utah, this girl has really never seen snow.

Here is a part of a snow man. Luckily we have a large grass area so it was possible to roll and get a snowman out of the one inch of snow.
I am sad that this shot did not turn out better. But I think you get the idea. This was a pretty big snow man for a little girl to make.

Here is a shot of Frosty by himself. I love the big fluffy snowflakes in the air.

And here is a shot the next morning. Even though it was sunny all day, the little snow man that could, is still standing. Who'd have thunk it?

Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 14

In this picture you get to see the full effect of my husbands glasses in the sun. And I think that Diana looks a little bit like a puppet, the way she is perched on my husbands hands. We are standing in front of what I hope will be our last home.

As promised there is a miracle story involved in our last move. Perhaps a list would be the best way to sum it up.

1. Unless we were interested in sending our son to the ghetto high school where it might be questionable if he would return home alive, we needed to move.

2. My husband applied to a job in AZ to be near his newly widowed mother.

3. He interviewed there, and we spent one of the most miserably hot days looking at homes in early July.

4. At the end of July he still had not received an offer. One day I would wake up sure that we were moving and spend the day packing boxes. The next day I would tell myself I was being crazy because we had no job to go to.

5. At the end of one trying week, I went to the temple. While I was pondering, I knew we weren't moving to AZ. I also knew exactly where the perfect house was for sale.

6. The next day a Saturday, I drove to the very cul de sac that I had been looking at all spring. And of course there was the perfect house for sale.

7. Monday I called my Realtor to say I had found a house and could he take us to see it. We went that afternoon.

8. Thursday we put our house on the market at noon. Our first looker came at 7:00 that night.

9. I spent a crazed 45 mins running through my house, sweeping the tops of counters into drawers, and stuff on floors into closets.

10. It worked, we had an offer Friday morning.

11. Friday afternoon, we made an offer on the house we wanted.

12. By Sunday night we had countered back and forth and it was ours.

And that was my miracle house buying story. Heavenly Father is the best realtor ever. I highly recommend Him. Found a house, sold a house and bought a house in one week. And it was exactly in the ward and schools that we wanted.

Trent started 9th grade at the high school he wanted. Jared started 6th grade at the middle school with all his soccer friends. And Diana started 1st grade in a 9 month school so her schedule could match with the boys. It was the perfect time for everyone to make the switch.

Moving is never fun. And it was no different this time. But it was worth it. We had to downsize a little bit, which included our cats. They did not come with us. But really at this time I tried to adopt the mantra "Less is more".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 13

This year was extremely frustrating to me. My husband was so busy that we could never get together for a picture. Instead, I figured that a shot of the kids would be better than nothing. I did not have a digital camera yet, and instead resorted to the trial and error method of photo taking. This meant gathering the kids together at gunpoint, snapping the shot and hoping there was a shot I would want to send out to everyone. We did also have some kittens available for the photo shoot.

As you can see Trent was doing his best impression of an ornery, obstinate teenager. I was never really happy with any of the pictures I took, also this was the fall that my FIL was struggling with Alzheimer. He passed away at the end of December. So even though I wrote a letter, I never managed to get it sent out.

Perhaps this will be the perfect opportunity for me to publish it.

Once again it is time to share with all of you a little of the happenings around here. The year has been a good one, and full of many "FIRSTS"

Last spring Diana had her FIRST ballet recital. Then, Diana had the FIRST broken bone of our family in May. She had a non displaced medial fracture of the supracondylar (elbow) when she fell off the monkey bars during Jared's soccer game. She then got her FIRST pink cast and enjoyed all the attention that comes with such things. We found a device that covers the cast and makes it almost waterproof, so swimming wasn't completely out of the question. She then was the FIRST in our family to brake the same arm in almost the same place again is September, when she did a cartwheel off the couch at the chapel, while I was in my institute class. This time it did not require a cast and instead I was suppose to keep her from injuring it any further. Diana also had her FIRST day of kindergarten in August. She loves school, especially all the other girls in her class. She also played soccer for the FIRST time this fall. Just last weekend Jared and Diana played barbershop for the FIRST time, and now for the FIRST time Diana has a short hair cut. I was gone to Seattle for the weekend and my husband was gone home teaching and I have no idea what got into the two of them.

This month, Jared became our FIRST child to get glasses. I have wondered about his eyes for a while, but the school tested him and told me he was fine. Finally I took him to a real optometrist, and I am excited for him to really see things clearly for the FIRST time. He is doing well in 5th grade and became a library aid for the FIRST time. The librarian told me that he is especially good with the younger kids and helping them find their books. He picks Diana up from her class each day and walks her to the bus. Another FIRST for Jared would be playing soccer on the big Olympic size soccer fields. He really gets a lot of exercise running on such a big field.

Trent became our FIRST teenager last May when he turned 13. If I wasn't already going gray, I am sure he would have given me my FIRST gray hair. He played his base guitar in his FIRST rock concert. Well actually it was at the scout spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the church. Everyone was thrilled because they raised more than twice as much money as the year before. He then went to scout camp on Catalina Island for the FIRST time in June. His favorite thing to do is play his guitar, which he plays FIRST thing each day. He shaved for the FIRST time this year, a fact that was shocking to me. He is the FIRST of 5 taxi runs I make each day taking kids to and from school.

In August my husband was called to be High Priest Group leader for the FIRST time . Last spring, for the FIRST time he was the manager and head coach for Jared's soccer team. They had so much fun they all played together again this fall. In his spare time, he keeps busy with electrical jobs. For the FIRST time, he has had almost too many jobs and has had a waiting list of people needing his help.

I am still busy as second counselor in the Stake Relief Society as I have watched our stake grow from 8 to 15 units in the past three years. This year, for the FIRST time since Diana was born, I remembered how much I enjoy scrap booking. I love spending Saturday nights watching Trading Spaces and working on my scrapbooks. Our roof leaked into our bedroom for the FIRST time last winter. After several more leaks, we got our house re-roofed for the FIRST time in 23 years. In June we purchased a second car and for the FIRST time since we have lived in Las Vegas, we now have two cars with A/C. In August Marion and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. We left our kids with my parents and for the FIRST time in a long time, we had a little getaway.
Well another year come and gone and we lived to tell about it. Tune in tomorrow for a miracle moving story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas, part 12

This picture didn't turn out too bad. In fact it is our last studio picture and still hangs on my mom's wall, even though it was 5 years ago and none of us look the same except my husband, who never changes. He is change resistant, which is kind of the same thing as waterproof. Thanks Crash for noticing that in your comment yesterday. (strangely I had already written this, how did you know I talked about my husbands strange unchangeableness?)

I loved this dress on Diana and I hope you can see the full effect of the hair bows complete with boingy curls compliments of sponge rollers. The dress was a super $3 find at Savers. I love that store and used to live right next door to Savers which was a good news /bad news situation.

Jared got braces this year which explains his strange closed mouth smile. He also tried basketball for the first time this year, but on top of soccer and scouts it was a bit too much.

I can't remember what we had to say to get Trent to almost smile, but it worked what ever it was. Trent played football again this year and his team went all the way and won the championship. I think this was his favorite season of football ever.

One of the biggest highlights of this year was a trip we took back east to visit my husbands parents while they were serving a mission at the DC temple. We were able to visit Kirkland also. And of course we did all the DC fun stuff like the monuments, and Smithsonian's. Although I think the kids like riding the metro as much as anything. It was a once in a lifetime trip and we felt so lucky to have been able to go.

A highlight for me from this year was helping out with an infertility conference that our Stake RS put on. I was in the presidency that helped organize this, and was able to meet Ardeth Knapp who came and was our keynote speaker. Too bad this was before I had honed my stalking skills and I didn't even get a picture with her. I really appreciate Sis, Knapp example of still being a force for good even though you are childless. The whole thing went very well and I hope that I helped others struggling with this very special trial.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 11

The year of 2002 decided to torture us a bit throughout the year and so we just stood together in our church clothes and other than Trent, we didn't feel that tortured during the picture.

In what I am sure is a biased opinion, I really liked my Christmas letter from this year. 2002 was very eventful for us and so I am just going to copy the letter I wrote for my post.

In the year 2002, life's ups and downs gave to us:

One Car a Driving - We became a one car family again, when our house was robbed in May during the night and the keys to our car were stolen. Besides the car, they took only a few other things like our wallets, CDs, a camera, and our sense of security. Diana was asleep on the couch right where they came in, and we were so relieved that she was not harmed. It was hard to be upset about what they took, when we still had what is most valuable to us. (by the way this was just weeks after Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped)

Two Years a Flying-My brother came home from his mission after two years flew by. In August, we drove 20 hrs to Seattle (which did not fly by), in order to attend his homecoming and a family reunion with my family. We feel the TV for our car is worth its weight in gold and can't imagine traveling any other way.

Three Years a Growing- Diana turned three in July, and keeps me company all day long while the boys are at school. Her favorite thing is to play with the kittens and make messes. She seems to never stop from morning to night and I am exhausted trying to keep up with her. She is always dancing and will start her first ballet class in January.

Four Years a Teaching- After four years at school, Marion received tenure last spring. He is very happy that the process is over and is still enjoying his job very much. He is also busy in church and helping to coach Jared's soccer team.

Five Seasons a Kicking-Jared played his fifth season of soccer and was awarded the MVP trophy for his outstanding play at goalie this fall.

Six Grades a Learning- This fall, Trent started sixth grade at middle school. His favorite class is orchestra where he is learning to play the violin.

Seven Days a Shopping- When our insurance company notified us that coverage for the rental car was ending, we had one week to buy a new van after our old one was totaled. Not nearly enough time in my opinion. (see #9)

Eight Year a Preparing- Jared turned eight and was baptized in April. We loved having so much family come for this special time. He is doing well in third grade and has started playing the piano this fall.

Ninth Month a Traveling- In September we drove to Mesa, AZ to attend a mission farewell for Marion's parents. On the way there, our van was hit by a drunk driver. After being hit, our van skidded 197 ft and flipped over. We were able to get everyone out and we were basically unhurt except for several cuts and some bumps and bruises. Miraculously we were protected. No one at the scene could believe that we were not more seriously hurt or even dead. The girl who hit us was completely drunk, with a blood alcohol level of .18. We all got to ride in an ambulance for the first time. Since then life has been crazy as we have dealt with doctor appointments, buying a new van, and insurance companies. Life is almost back to normal again, although I am still sore and being treated.

Ten Years a Scouting- While Trent was ten, he earned his Arrow of Light award, advancing to the next level of scouting.

Eleven Years a Aging- Trent turned eleven in May and is looking forward to graduating from Primary this year.

Twelve Kittens a Pouncing- Our cat had twelve kittens this year. Add to this 4 more kittens that a stray cat gave birth to and then abandoned in our garage, and it has truly been the summer kittens, much to Diana's delight. Happily I was able to sell ALL of them, much to my delight. Apparently, I have inadvertently started a kitten selling business.

Well, what do you think? Am I clever or what?

Yes it is not every year you survive a robbery and a near death car accident. But we lived to see another year. So all was well that ended.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past, part 10

For this year we had torture by a professional. A professional photographer anyway. This is one of my favorite family pictures. I think it turned out looking quite nice and I remember not being able to resist spending way to much money on all the different shots taken.

It seems particularly ironic, because I also remember every one being especially grumpy to each other on the way in the car. You know the normal, he's looking at me stuff. So sometimes it is possible to put on a show for the photographer. Here we look like a sweet, loving family. Who'd have thunk we fought all the way there and back?

Some of the things I wrote about in that year's letter were Trent playing tackle football for the first time while in fifth grade. Also Jared played two seasons of soccer and was in second grade.

Here is a quote of what I wrote about Diana then two and a half: "Recently there was a day when she smeared an entire cube of softened butter all over the counter and herself. Then she spilled some milk on her little padded rocking chair. I took that outside and hosed it off. It was a warm day and so I let her play in the water for a few minutes. While I was not watching she put the hose in the house on the carpet while it was still going. These are just a few of her tricks."

Ah, life with toddlers is never dull. And I wouldn't have even remembered this, if I hadn't written it down.

Also my Grandmother died during this year. I drove by myself with Diana to Logan for the funeral. We survived thanks to a borrowed TV and seven hours of Barney. I remember that she was fussy during the funeral and I took her to the back. When I wasn't watching she turned the lights off in the chapel. Yea that didn't disrupt the service at all.

All in all it was a good busy year where everyone was growing up and living life to its fullest.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jar Head

We interrupt the parade of Ghosts of Christmas past to bring you a post from the here and now.

Last night was our ward Christmas party. It had a back to Bethlehem theme. I pulled out our small box of nativity costumes that we have thanks to my Mom. Knowing better I didn't offer any of them to the boys.

I was showing Diana how it would look. Once I donned my shepherd headgear, Diana informed me that I looked like a jar.

You know like a canning jar with fabric on top of it. What the heck. How does a nine year old think of that?

What do you all think?

As a side note, my hair is looking a bit black instead of grey. With all going on lately, I have never managed to get that little task done. Even though I posted about it over a month ago. Thanks to my wonderful sister and her two day visit my grey is nowhere to be seen. I am hoping that the color will lighten, soon. It was so good to have a visit from my sister and besides coloring my hair, she helped a lot around here.